County special education students earn R.E.A.L. Success awards


GREENVILLE — The Darke County Education Service Center (ESC) hosted its annual R.E.A.L. Success luncheon Monday at Romer’s for those students who achieved excellent or outstanding on state testing.

The lunch was held in celebration of Raising Expectations for All Learners (R.E.A.L.) by the special education supervisory staff at the ESC, comprised of Lisa Giuffre, Lisa Preston and Pat Wendel.

ESC Superintendent Mike Gray gave the opening remarks and Darke County Commissioner Diane Delaplane presented the invocation. Gray then announced the award winners and Delaplane presented each with his/her award.

Honored were:

Ansonia students — Jenna Fullorth, Tyler Runner, Jeff Thorp, Darrell Fox, Austin Oliver, Zander Ahrens, Abigail Heck, Alex Willoughby and Odin Zeller. Sam Rhoades was not in attendance.

Arcanum students — Willie Brehm, Victoria Gross, Josiah Fox, Daniel Lambert and Shane Grant. Isaac Smith and Mary Trittschuh were unable to attend.

Bradford students — Andrew Moyer, Caden Jay and Ben Kitts. Keenan Clark and Devin Miller were not in attendance.

Franklin Monroe students — Jayce Byers, Marcus Glass, Josh Albright, Madelaine Gantt, Maureen Gantt, Mercedes Hatch and Eveleen Middlestetter.

Mississinawa Valley students — Aiden Reichard, Jordan Hampshire, Joshua Hampshire, Jonas Bobo, Braydon Smith, Thomas Swanson, Zachary Miller, Madison Stachler, Kaine Daniels, Sherry Bailer, Caden King, Zackary Binkley, Samantha Couchot, Braxton Hampshire, Mannie Melchor and Ross Crumrine. Chase Ashby was not in attendance.

Tri-Village students — John Ketring, Michael Seager, Brandon Lee and Gracie Brown. Becca Locke was unable to attend.

Versailles students — David Ault, Evan Thiebeau and Katie Runner.

Angela McMurry, ESC’s science coordinator, made remarks as did Gray.

McMurry shared the story, “The Most Magnificent Thing.” After reading from it, she said, “What really is magnificent? Nowhere do you see where magnificent is perfect. Sometimes you want to quit and make changes, but the most magnificent thing is just around the corner. I believe you all are truly magnificent.”

Gray ended the awards ceremony by announcing that he had some money to give away like he usually does at these events in the past.

He held up a $10 bill, and asked who wanted it, and of course the hands went up. He then crumpled it up in his hands and again asked who wanted it. Hands stayed up. Then he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoes. Still, hands went into the air.

He then said, “Friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $10. Many times in our lives we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who do love you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by who we are. You are special. Don’t ever forget it.”

Recipients of $10 bills were Mercedes Hatch, Josiah Fox, Katie Runner, Zander Ahrens and Sherry Bailer, while names drawn for the book, “The Most Magnificent Thing,” were Thomas Swanson, Madison Stachler, Jayce Byers, Willie Brehm and David Ault.

By Linda Moody

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This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to

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